Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress led-UDF in Kerala was headed for a landslide in the state by continuing its lead in 19 of the total 20 Lok Sabha seats, with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi garnering over 3.60 lakh votes from Wayanad.
The seat which was supposed to be the spare proved to be the lifeline and face-saver for Gandhi who conceded defeat against BJP’s Smriti Irani in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh.
Besides Gandhi, eight UDF candidtates-Ramya Haridas (Alathur), Hibi Eden (Ernakulam), Dean Kuriyakose (Idukki), Benny Behnan (Chalakkudy)(all Congress), IUML leaders ET Mohammed Basheer (Ponnani) and P K Kunhalikutty (Malappuram), Thomas Chazhikadan of KC(M)(Kottayam) and N K Premachandran of RSP (Kollam) crossed the one lakh mark at 4pm.
For the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, which appears to have suffered a massive loss, the only consolation was its performance in Alappuzha constituency, where MLA AM Ariff was ahead of his Congress rival Shanimol Osman by a margin of 13,043 votes in the evening.
Gandhi's presence seems to have helped UDF put in an impressive performance in the polls.
The Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government had expected to repeat its 2004 performance, in which the Left Front won 18 seats, despite most exit polls predicting only 4-5 seats for them.
Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, who was inching towards a hatrick from Thiruvananthapuram constituency, said the performance of his party in the state was a moment of agony and ecstasy as they face a setback lost at the national level.
No Sabarimala Impact
The emotive Sabarimala row in which senior BJP leaders played a key role failed to help the party open its account in the Lok Sabha battle in Kerala.
The usual best showing for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came in Thiruvananthapuram where it finished second while ending up in the third spot in all other 19 constituencies.
When Suresh Gopi, a Rajya Sabha member, was asked to contest from Thrissur, the BJP brass had high hopes that they would win two seats. But Gopi finished way behind the Congress and the Left.
Tharoor’s performance was a blow to former Kerala BJP chief Kummanem Rajasekheran, who quit as the Mizoram Governor to take on Tharoor.
At Pathanamthitta, one of the BJP's popular faces, K Surendran, who was jailed for over two weeks during the Sabarimala agitation, led for a while in the vote count before being relegated to the third position.
State BJP chief PS Sreedharan Pillai failed to elaborate on the impact of Sabarimala issue.